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Mitchell Baseball proposal swings, misses at council meeting

Mitchell Baseball Association's proposal to build a training facility on public land was met with mixed reaction by the City Council on Monday. Dean Sadler and Luke Norden took to City Hall to pitch the installation of an 80- by 120-foot indoor b...

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Mitchell Baseball Association's proposal to build a training facility on public land was met with mixed reaction by the City Council on Monday.

Dean Sadler and Luke Norden took to City Hall to pitch the installation of an 80- by 120-foot indoor baseball facility on city-owned land at the Cadwell Park Complex, but the pair of Mitchell Baseball Association representatives were peppered with questions and concerns from several council members. Sadler serves as president of Mitchell Baseball and Norden serves as director of baseball for the organization. Norden is also the coach of the Legion and high school teams.

If ultimately approved as proposed during Monday night's meeting, Mitchell Baseball would fund the entire building at the corner of West 15th Avenue and North Iowa Street. The city could then agree to a 25-year lease at $1 per year.

After hearing the plan, the council decided to table the discussion to gather more information about the project.

During a discussion eclipsing 30 minutes at Council Chambers in City Hall, Councilman Mel Olson kicked off the barrage of council concerns by asking what would happen if the city and Mitchell Baseball have a disagreement of some kind in the midst of the lease agreement.

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"I'm not against a baseball building, I used to play baseball when I was young and fast, and I'm neither anymore," Olson said. "But, what happens if we get in some sort of dispute or the building goes to pot?"

The proposed structure, which would stand 28 feet tall, would be built in a rarely used section of Cadwell, but Councilwoman Susan Tjarks said she's heard comments from neighbors who wonder what impact the structure would have on their view of the sunset. Tjarks said she's heard concerns from more than one neighbor, and Tjarks had other issues of her own.

"I do recognize that that's a concern," Tjarks said. "I share concerns about taking city land for any purpose and giving it a 25-year lease, personally."

Tjarks also raised questions about how the Mitchell Baseball complex would hinder growth at Cadwell, a concern that first arose when the facility was initially discussed with the Mitchell Parks and Recreation Board.

Despite the questions from Tjarks, Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said the board had no concerns with the proposed location. Currently, the gravel lot is used for overflow parking at Cadwell.

In 20 years in Mitchell, Sadler said the heaviest use he's seen at the lot is 30 to 40 parked cars, and the limited use and proximity to the local baseball complex played a major role in choosing the location.

But Tjarks and Olson weren't the only council members with worries about the proposed lease agreement.

The facility was pitched as a baseball-only training center, with Mitchell Baseball footing the bill for the entire structure and receiving assistance from the city in the form of a minimal cost for the annual lease. But with the city providing a $1 annual lease, Councilmen Dave Tronnes and Jeff Smith asked why the facility should be limited to only baseball players.

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Smith suggested Mitchell Baseball allow occasional access to the facility, similar to the agreement the city has in place for the ice arena at the Mitchell Activities Center.

"If we're going to be a partner, I think there has to be somewhat of a public aspect to it," Smith said.

Sadler said the association is open to allowing another group of athletes to use the structure, but he's unsure how much time would remain available for use.

The project ultimately inched forward Monday night, with the council asking to see more information regarding the proposal. But Councilman Steve Rice said Mitchell Baseball's proposal and lack of details provided is like putting the cart slightly before the horse.

Rice said the city will need to know what will be included in the lease, how the site will be used, what zoning changes would be required and how neighbors feel about the project.

Palace Education Center to return in 2017

Following a successful first season of the Corn Palace Education Center, which was housed on the second floor of the building in the auxiliary gymnasium, Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce Director Sonya Moller said the attraction will return in 2017.

L.B. Williams Elementary teacher Tressa Wede and some of her current and former fifth-grade students who helped with the project, took to Council Chambers to give an update on the education center now that it has been closed for the season.

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The students said the education center was open for 85 days and saw 76,211 guests over the summer season, with Friday through Sunday serving as the most popular days. The center-which includes displays with agricultural facts, a makeshift corn maze and various other interactive aspects-was a collaborative effort between various city organizations and the L.B. Williams fifth-graders.

When it returns in 2017, Moller said the center will open in May rather than June to accommodate school trips, and Wede said she hopes to find a permanent space to keep the facility open year-round.

After the presentation, Councilwoman Bev Robinson thanked the students for their effort to bring a new feature to the Corn Palace.

"It was fantastic," Robinson said. "I'm just absolutely amazed at what a job you did with coming up with different ideas and different activities and it's colorful, it's inviting. You guys did a great job, thank you very much."

Consent agenda

The council approved the following items of the consent agenda:

• City Council minutes from the Oct. 3 meeting and Planning Commission meeting minutes from Sept. 26.

• Various department reports, including finance, mowing, airport, the Corn Palace, building permits, the Mitchell Public Library, Palace Transit and water.

• A raffle permit request from the James Valley Community Center, with the drawing to be held Jan. 12, and a raffle permit request from the Mitchell Aquatic Club, with the drawings to be held every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in 2017.

• Change Order No. 2 to the Rowley Street Project 2016-3, contracted to Menning Backhoe, LLC, decreasing the amount by $8,228.50. The contract will be adjusted to $174,528.25.

• Change Order No. 1 to the 23rd Avenue and Ohlman Street Westwood Storm Pond Project 2016-30, contracted to Schoenfelder Construction, increasing the amount by $550. The contract will rise to $71,582.35.

• A Parade of Lights parade permit for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 5.

• Set Nov. 11 as the date to consider two special event liquor licenses from the Overtime Event Center for holiday parties on Dec. 9 and Dec. 13.

• Bills, pay estimates, payroll, salary adjustments, new employee hires and authorization of payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

The council considered the following agenda items:

• Called the meeting to order, heard an invocation from Resurrection Lutheran Church and conducted the Pledge of Allegiance.

• During citizen input, Councilman Steve Rice said a concerned citizen wanted to notify the public of alleged drug use at the city's walking trails and parks surrounding Lake Mitchell. Councilman Mel Olson also spoke, reminding citizens of Mitchell High School's production of "Sister Act," which will be held Friday and Saturday.

• Held a hearing and approved the application of Xing Chen, doing business as Tokyo, for a new retail on-off sale wine license at 819 E. Spruce St.

• Held a hearing and approved the application of the Mitchell Elks Lodge for a special event liquor license for a wedding at the masonic lodge on Nov. 5.

• Held a hearing and approved the application of Blarney's Sports Bar & Grill for a special event liquor license at the Highland Mall for the Holiday Spirit event. Proceeds will benefit the Mitchell Area Safehouse.

• As the board of adjustment set Nov. 7 as the date to consider a request from Jamie Wagner for a conditional use permit to operate a family residential child care service in her home located at 812 W. Second Ave. and set Nov. 7 as the date to consider a request from West Havens Storage LLC for a conditional use permit for construction of self-service facilities at 1522 W. Havens Ave.

• Also as the board of adjustment, approved both the application of Sue Burris for a front yard variance of 15- by-25 feet for construction of an unenclosed porch as her residence at 210 W. 10th Ave. and the application of Roxie Ackman and Brittany Royston for a conditional use permit to operate a home occupation beauty salon in their property at 718 E. Sixth Ave.

• Tabled the rezoning process of various city-owned properties.

• Approved Resolution No. 3387, a plat of Lot 33 of Maui Farms Second Addition.

• Approved Resolution No. 3388, a plat of Lot 5-B, Block 7 of Westwood First Addition.

• Approved Resolution No. 3389, a plat of Lots 3 and 4, Block 4A of Westwood First Addition.

• Approved Resolution No. 3390, a plat of Lots 1 and 2, Block 8 of Westwood First Addition.

• Approved Resolution No. 3391, a plat of Lots 5B and 7B of Menard's Addition.

• Held the second reading and adoption of Ordinance No. 2553, an ordinance changing the district classification of Lots 1 through 9, Block 5 of the MLC Addition from R2 Single Family Residential to Planned Unit Development District.

• Held the second reading and adoption of Ordinance No. 2554, amending Mitchell City Code 6-1-4(A) on unreasonable animal noise.

• Approved the following collective bargaining agreements effective between Jan. 1, 2017 and Dec. 31, 2019: An agreement with Mitchell city employees of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2922, Teamsters Local Union No. 120 and Mitchell Firefighters Association Local 4166.

Related Topics: CADWELL PARKCORN PALACE
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